The second series of The End of the F****** World has received warm reviews from many critics – although most say it doesn’t quite live up to the first.
The first series of Channel 4’s comedy-drama aired in 2017 and became an international hit on Netflix last year.
“Against the odds, they’ve almost lived up to the electric first season,” wrote Collider’s Haleigh Foutch. “Almost.”
Mike Hale of The New York Times said the storyline didn’t have the same “momentum” as the first season.
“It’s all still amusing, and the notes of strangled romanticism and just-perceptible nobility are still in place,” he wrote.
“But the plot doesn’t have the momentum and the crazy energy it did the first time around, and it’s harder to ignore the show’s calculating nature: how it uses Alyssa and James’s interior monologues to tell us what to think, and the constant musical cues to tell us how to feel.”
The series is based on Charlie Forman’s graphic novel of the same name and stars Jessica Barden and Alex Lawther as Alyssa and James, the two young outsiders at the centre of the show.
The first season saw the pair embark on a road trip in search of Alyssa’s real father. The second landed on Channel 4 on Monday and on Netflix internationally on Tuesday.
Rebecca Nicholson of The Guardian gave the show five stars. “It is gruesome and violent and scatological, but then it is funny and pointed and wry, and then it defers to a tender look, or an affectionate touch, and shows its heart,” she said.
“One of the skills of this show is its light touch when it comes to humour, which arrives unexpectedly, in the bleakest of moments. The writing is fantastically dry – even a line as stark as ‘I killed someone’ earns a laugh, through the addition of a pause, and the explanatory addition of ‘on purpose’.”
However, Ben Travers of IndieWire said the plot was “largely redundant, reworking the story beats from season one to make explicit everything that was implied”.
He wrote: “By the time you get to the end of season two, very little vital progress has been made, besides moving the characters away from that traumatic final moment on the beach, and in doing so, upending the bite of season one’s tragedy and replacing it with something much more palatable and much more commonplace.”
In her Collider review, Foutch concluded the new season is “not as magical or electrifying as the first”, but added: “It’s still an impressive, emotional piece of storytelling that keeps hold of what made us fall in love with these characters in the first place without forcing them to regress.”
“Some people think the second season shouldn’t have even been made,” said Cosmopolitan’s Emma Baty.
“I’m not gonna go that far, because I did truly like this season. However, unless Netflix can come up with a REALLY killer plot for the next season, this should probably be the end of it.”
Michael Hogan of The Telegraph said writer Charlie Covell and director Lucy Forbes had maintained the “sense of millennial angst and the stylised storytelling of a graphic novel”, adding: “The result was bleak but dry, wry and hopelessly romantic.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman said the show was “still great” – albeit perhaps not quite as great as the first.
“There are some missteps,” he wrote. “The voiceover trick that worked so brilliantly the first time around even when it shouldn’t have, not surprisingly, is less effective and sometimes egregious this time out. And there are some pacing issues.
“That said, the better parts are more frequent than the lacking parts; it’s a pleasure to have James and Alyssa back in viewers’ lives, no matter how damaged they are.”